FEAR CAN BE A SCARY THING
Fear can be debilitating. We can be frozen with fear. We can sometimes let fear get the better of us and cloud our judgement. We can be afraid of not doing the right thing, so we do nothing at all. We have a natural fear of failure and the consequences of failure.
FEAR CAN BE TELLING US NOT TO DO SOMETHING WE PROBABLY SHOULDN’T DO
We have real good reasons to let fear alert us to real danger. Fear is a vital response to physical and emotional danger; it has strong roots in human evolution. If we didn’t feel fear, we couldn’t protect themselves from legitimate threats. Confronting large beasts often led our relatives to deadly consequences. Today we often fear situations where the stakes are much lower, but our body and brain still treat the threat as lethal. This can trigger an extreme, and often unnecessary, fight, flight or freeze response. As a result, people may find themselves avoiding challenges, missing opportunities or holding back during a jazz jam session for no good reason. Jazz musicians can teach us about letting go of our fear of failure. Jazz musicians have few reasons to fear screwing up as failure is just part of the process.
Miles Davis did say – “Do not fear mistakes, there are none.”
FREEDOM FROM FEAR Norman Rockwell
The arts can be a safe haven from any of the fears of failing that you may have.
John Cleese – “Nothing will stop you from being creative so effectively as the fear of making a mistake.”
Herbie Hancock – “In the world of art there are no wrong choices.”
At the height of the depression FDR asked his nation to suck it up and carry on by stating, “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” This could have been said by either Miles Davis or Louis Armstrong. Not worrying about what may lie ahead is something that happens moment to moment in any jazz band. Jazz forgives and forgives again on the fly. The note that wasn’t quite perfect becomes the new direction for the music. Alert musicians see mistakes as opportunities.
PIANIST JOHNNY O’NEIL AT THE DIRTY DOG JAZZ CAFÉ
Johnny O’Neil isn’t afraid of much.
When Johnnie O’Neil came to Detroit he would sometimes stay with his friend, Jeff Pedras, who is one of Detroit’s great bass players. Jeff told me a story about Johnnie spotting a piano in his house and then asking to play it. Jeff knew that this was a dreadfully out of tune piano that had been unused and neglected for many years. His embarrassment turned to wonder as Johnny teased magic into the living room. Jeff realized that Johnnie O’Neil was a very special pianist. Johnny took the instrument he was given and used its faults to his advantage. He has faced adversity many times in his life. Johnny was born in Detroit and he plays like it. His piano and singing is beautiful but there is a sadness that sometimes comes through his luscious phrasing.
Pianist Johnny O’Neil will return to the Dirty Dog for four nights this April. If you miss him, don’t worry, you can go to New York and stand in a long line at the club he is playing to see him. He has developed a following that is deserved. Johnny is authentically one of a kind. He is self- taught, and he has had a great teacher. He has a large playlist, and he reintroduces us to the true meaning of each song.
Johnny never learned to read music, but he estimates his repertoire at about 1,500 songs, all from memory. His education began at his childhood church in his native Detroit By the time he was 25, he had logged almost 10 years as a professional there, in Birmingham, Ala., and in St. Louis.
Johnny O’Neil has made his living playing the piano his whole life. If that isn’t scary, what is?
Coleman Hawkins – “If you don’t make mistakes, you aren’t really trying.
FEAR OF JAZZ
Musicians and a lot of music lovers are intimidated by jazz. It is hard to play and requires a foundation of hard work and skill that can be off putting. Jazz can also be difficult to understand for those who are new to jazz. It is easy to find yourself not having a clue where a tune is going and then questioning if the artists really know what they are doing. You may be right. They might not know. Eventually we learn that it doesn’t matter. Jazz allows the musician to go fearlessly forward, wherever the music takes them. We begin to understand that the artists aren’t afraid even though they may be entering unknown territory. If they aren’t afraid, why should we be?
Jazz audiences will never be comprised of only highly trained musician-types. There will always be room for a lot of us who know only that something special is happening, and we will remain in awe of the fearless adventures that jazz artists will take on.
“In art there are no failures, and therefore there should not be any fear of failing. Doing away with fear is essential to making truly great art.”
No joking it is April
COMING THIS MONTH TO THE DIRTY DOG
April 3 – 6
Paul Pearce of Bass World magazine writes that “Pete absolutely ‘sings’ with his drum kit.”
A consummate professional, Pete has an international reputation for his “restless curiosity, attention to detail, and mastery of many different styles,” Pete will be familiar to Dirty Dog regulars. Pete Siers has played with jazz luminaries such as Russell Malone, Mulgrew Miller, Marian McPartland, Lee Konitz, Benny Golson, James Moody, Kenny Werner, David “Fathead” Newman, Eddie Daniels, Frank Morgan, Scott Hamilton, Bob Wilber, and Barry Harris. In addition to his expansive performance career, Pete has played on over 50 recordings. He has played Carnegie Hall, festivals across the U.S.and has toured Europe several times.
April 10 -13
Detroiter Johnny O’Neal is a legendary jazz pianist and band leader. Johnny has played with: Art Blakey (including a one year stint as a member of Blakey’s ‘Jazz Messengers’ ensemble), Clark Terry, Milt Jackson, Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Nancy Wilson, Joe Pass, Lionel Hampton, Anita O’Day, Sonny Stitt, Carmen MacRae, Kenny Burrell, Benny Golson, Sarah Vaughn, Wynton Marsalis, and Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis.
His father, Johnny O’Neal, Sr., was a well-known jazz pianist and singer in Detroit.
He started his career at age 13 working at New Bethel Baptist Church in his hometown of
Detroit, MI as church pianist on Sundays for $10 per service.
April 17 -20
Straight Ahead’s founding members, the “Rhythm Sisters” (Marion Hayden on bass, Aleena Orr on piano and Gayelyn McKinney on drums), will be joined by special guest John Douglas on trumpet and Yancy on saxophone. These Grammy-nominated artists have traveled throughout the U.S., the Caribbean and Europe, garnering rave reviews. Their dynamic live performances are a celebration of power and joy.
April 24 – 25
Trunino Lowe is a young up and coming trumpet player in Detroit. Serving as a composer, band leader, sideman and mentor at the age of 20, his passion for music shows on and off the band stand. He has played with some big names of Detroit such as Marion Hayden, Wendell Harrison, Rodney Whitaker, Sean Dobbins, Marcus Elliot, and more. Trunino is currently a student at Wayne State University.
April 26 -27
WILLIE JONES III
Ever since 1997, when he moved to New York City from Los Angeles, his hometown, Willie Jones III has been one of the jazz capital’s most prominent drummers. Whether functioning as a savvy bandleader or high-profile sideman, Jones applies to every context an abiding musicality and a tonal personality that, as Wynton Marsalis puts it, is “ever tasteful,” marked by what pianist Eric Reed, his frequent collaborator, calls “a West Coast swagger in his swing, with a looseness that isn’t lackadaisical and an edge that isn’t overwhelming.”
He has played, toured, and recorded with Horace Silver, Roy Hargrove, Hank Jones, Cedar Walton, and Herbie Hancock.